What CREW Learned About DOJ’s Investigation of Paul Magliocchetti and the PMA Group, Inc.

Pay-to-PlayIn February 2011, CREW filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice based on the agency’s refusal to provide CREW with any documents in response to CREW’s 2010 Freedom of Information Act request for information concerning convicted felon Paul Magliocchetti. Mr. Magliocchetti was the founder and president of PMA Group, Inc., a lobbying firm with close ties to many members of Congress, including the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).

In February 2010, the House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official Conduct released a 300-plus page report on its investigation of allegations of unlawful conduct involving connections between Defense subcommittee earmarks and campaign contributions from the PMA Group. DOJ also had investigated Mr. Magliocchetti and the PMA Group and in August 2010, charged Mr. Magliocchetti with making illegal campaign contributions and false statements to a federal agency to conceal his illegal contributions. On September 24, 2010, Mr. Magliocchetti entered a plea agreement with the government in which he agreed to plead guilty to making false statements, making illegal conduit campaign contributions, and making illegal corporate campaign contributions. On January 7, 2011, DOJ announced Mr. Magliocchetti had been sentenced to 27 months in prison for his offenses.

Despite this plea and the widespread publicity surrounding Mr. Magliocchetti’s crimes, the government initially refused to provide CREW with any documents from its closed investigative files of Mr. Magliocchetti. DOJ insisted no document could be disclosed under the FOIA, as all were categorically exempt on privacy grounds. On July 22, 2013, then-U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins, in an oral ruling from the bench, rejected the government’s categorical exemption claim. Based on the judicially required re-review and processing of CREW’s request, DOJ released to CREW hundreds of pages of documents. This newly released material provides a remarkable insight into PMA’s illegal activities and raises more questions about whether authorities could and should have done more.

Read all of our findings below.

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